Some Words of Wisdom

Today we got a wonderful letter from Bruce (our missionary). He's in Taiwan now and is feeling completely lost as far as the language goes. His branch president in the Missionary Training Center gave him some good advice as he was leaving. "Don't let the things you can't do keep you from doing the things you can do." Bruce's response to that was "I really like that. I can still work hard, study hard, smile and wave to everyone I see, have faith, and strive to improve my language skills everyday."

What a great way to look at life and our challenges. I learned at a very young age that math was hard for me. Numbers didn't click in my head the way they seemed to in other people's. I always felt lost and like they were speaking another language.

In 9th grade, I had my uncle for Algebra. I was optimistic. Surely having a teacher who knew me and could give me extra help would finally get me over the hump and I'd finally get math. I tried. Uncle Dennis tried. We spent many hours trying to teach me the concepts of algebra. I still didn't get it. I passed the class and never took another math class again.

The problem with that is that math paralyzed me. I thought I might make a good high school English teacher, but I didn't pursue it. I loved literature and writing, but I never majored in it. Instead I took many classes that interested me, but I never pursued a degree. Why? I couldn't do math and math was a requirement for college graduation. Because of being paralyzed by the things I couldn't do, I didn't try to do the things I knew I'd be good at.

Now, many years later, I still love literature and I write. I'm doing the things I can do and trying not to be paralyzed by the things I can't do.

I can't do math. I can't always say the right thing. I can't paint or draw. I can't play a musical instrument. I can't sing as well as I'd like. I can't whistle at all. I can't seem to perfect my housekeeping skills or be as thin as I once was. I can't travel to all the places I wish I could. I can't speak a foreign language. I can't grow a successful garden or keep the deer from eating my tulips. I can't dance. I'm not graceful or particularly athletic. I can't do the splits or a cartwheel.

But I can smile. I can recognize good art and music. I can be a good listener and I can sometimes make people laugh. I can keep my family in clean clothes and cook a good meal. I can bake an amazing chocolate chip cookie pie and I can be a good friend. I can make a wedding cake and I can sew a beautiful dress. I can love people and I'm not afraid to let them know it. I can color a pretty good picture and I can fall in love with a book. I can sing to my kids and I can write.

The things I can do are enough to keep me busy. I'll just have to leave the things I can't do to someone else.

What are some of the things you can and can't do?

(Image from Free Clip Art by Phillip Martin)


Magnolia said...

What a neat post! Thank you for sharing!

Kristi said...

Spencer read Bruce's letter out loud last night before bed. I was writing in my journal. I liked that quote too and wrote it in my journal.
I do not have the obvious talents, but I have learned over the years that the not so obvious talents have value too.

Anonymous said...

I am one of those who grew thinking that if one couldn't sing, play piano or paint beautiful pictures, I had no talent. With years of experience I have learned that is not true. I have my own set of talents and I am grateful for them. Like Kristi said, "not so obvious talents have value too." I loved that quote in Bruce's letter as well. So, I want to say, I make quilts! My sisters make gorgeous intricate quilts and I am amazed at their skill. But, I make basic, but cute and colorful quilts. I no longer think theirs are far superior to mine...they are just different. Just like each of us. We are all different and WE ALL HAVE GIFTS AND TALENTS. Thanks for this thoughtful post, Karey.

Tawnie J said...

Hm. I love this post. I am going to think about those things I CAN and CAN'T do. I love it. Kristi, excuse me? Obvious talents? Hello hats, quilts, food, clean house, good mom, eyebrows!!! You do have obvious talents.

Tawnie J said...

Sorry. Me again. We will be using this topic as Family HOme Evening. Love it.